How to Highlight and Contour: The Ultimate Guide

How to Highlight and Contour: The Ultimate Guide

Lets talk about highlighting and contouring, shall we? It’s something that a lot of people are nervous about tackling but I’ve got news for you – EVERYONE needs to be incorporating highlight & contour techniques into their makeup routine. Even if we don’t all do heavy contour a-la Kim Kardashian a well placed highlight and contour can help your face look defined, glowing, and could even help you “shed a few pounds” through the optical illusions that it creates. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this so I thought that it was time that I finally put together my answer to the age old question of “How to Highlight and Contour.”

I’m personally a very visual person so I put together a little cheat sheet for your reference (as pictured above). Of course there are dozens of different contour techniques, placements, etc so I just added the most basic and well known placements for your reference

Highlighting and contouring is the placement of light and dark colors on the face to mimic shadows and light reflection. It’s a lot easier than it sounds, don’t worry!

Think of contouring as adding shadows to your face to diminish certain spots while helping other points to stand out. Take the cheekbones for example: By placing a contour in the hollows of the cheeks you can help to mimic a natural shadow and give the appearance of a more prominent cheekbone. You can also use a contour down the sides of your nose if you want to visually decrease its width or if you have a square face (like yours truly) you can place a bit of bronzer on the outer corners of your forehead and jawbone to help soften your face shape.

Highlighting is the opposite of contouring and if we were taking the SAT the word association would be a little something like this – Contour is to Shadow as Highlight is to Brighten. You can utilize highlighting to help certain features stand out and give your complexion a gorgeous glow. If you’re contouring underneath the cheekbones (the most common contour) you should definitely be highlighting above your contour to brighten the face and help your cheekbones stand out. The same thing goes for your nose; if you’re contouring the sides of your nose to slim it place a small bit of highlighter down the center of your nose to draw attention there and further add to the optical illusion. I also like to highlight between my eyebrows and on my chin to help minimize my square facial shape.

Even though blush isn’t *technically* part of a highlight & contour routine I wanted to talk about it for a quick second. When it comes to blush I always recommend for people to apply blush in an upward motion kind of between the highlight & contour. Applying blush upward towards your temple helps to lift your face and give a more youthful appearance. If you struggle with where to start your blush you can smile, find the apples of your cheeks, and then sweep up from there.



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